Lisa nibbled at the edge of the sandwich's crust, catching a tangy bit of fresh mustard. "Can we expect some rescue by these soldiers?"

"Doubtful. Not in the time frame we have. It will take them days to discover that my body's not among the ruins of the monastery."

"Then I don't see—"

Painter held up a hand, munched a mouthful of sandwich, and mumbled around it. "It's about honesty. Putting it out there, plainly and openly. Seeing what happens. Something drew Sigma's attention out here. Reports of strange illnesses. After operating so covertly for so many years, why all these slips in the past months? I'm not one to place much stock in coincidence. I overheard Anna speaking to the soldier-assassin. She hinted at some problem here. Something that has them baffled. I think our two goals might not be at such cross-purposes. There may be room for cooperation."

"And they'd let us live?" she asked, half scoffing, but a part of her hoped. She bit into the sandwich to hide her foolishness.

"I don't know," he said, staying honest. "As long as we prove useful. But if we can gain a few days…it widens our chances for a rescue or maybe a change of circumstance."

Lisa chewed her food, contemplating. Before she knew it, her fingers were empty. And she was still hungry. They shared the bowl of blackberries, pouring cream over them.

She eyed Painter with a fresh perspective. He was more than stubborn strength. There was a brilliance behind those blue eyes and a wealth of common sense. As if sensing her scrutiny, he glanced at her. She quickly returned to studying the platter of food.

In silence, they finished their meal, sipping the tea. With food in their bellies, exhaustion weighed on them both, making even talk a burden. Also she enjoyed the quiet, sitting next to him. She heard him breathing. She could smell his freshly scrubbed skin.

As she finished the last of her honeyed tea, she noted Painter rubbing at his right temple, one eye squinted. His headache was flaring up. She didn't want to play doctor, go clinical and worry him, but she studied him askance. The fingers of his other hand trembled. She noted the slight vibration in his pupils as he stared at the dying fire.

Painter had mentioned honesty, but did he want the truth about his condition? The attacks seemed to be coming on more frequently. And a part of her was selfish enough to fear—not for his health, but for the thin hope of survival he had instilled in her. She needed him.

Lisa stood. "We should get some sleep. Dawn cannot be far off."

Painter groaned but nodded. He stood. She had to grab his elbow as he teetered a bit.

"I'm fine," he said.

So much for honesty.

She guided him toward the bed and pulled back the blankets.

"I can sleep on the sofa," he said, resisting.

"Don't be ridiculous. Get in. Now's not the time to be concerned with any impropriety. We're in a Nazi stronghold."

"Former Nazi."

"Yeah, big comfort there."

Still, he climbed into the bed with a sigh, robe and all. Walking around the bed, she did the same, blowing out the bedside candles. The shadows thickened, but the dying firelight kept the room pleasantly aglow. Lisa didn't know if she could handle the total darkness.

She settled under the blankets, pulling them up to her chin. She kept a space between the two of them, back to Painter. He must have sensed her fear and rolled to face her.

"If we die," Painter mumbled, "we'll die together."

She swallowed. Those were not the reassuring words she had expected to hear, but at the same time she was oddly comforted. Something in his tone, the honesty, the promise behind the words, succeeded where weak assertions of their safety would have failed.

She believed him.

Snuggling closer, her hand found his, fingers entwined, nothing sexual, just two people needing to touch. She pulled his arm around her.

He squeezed her hand, reassuring and strong.

She pulled deeper against him, and he rolled to hold her more snugly.

Lisa closed her eyes, not expecting to sleep.

But in his arms, she eventually did.

10:39 p.m.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

Gray checked his watch.

They'd been hiding for over two hours. He and Fiona had holed themselves up inside a service shaft for a ride called the Minen, or Mine. It was an old-fashioned animatronic amusement where cars rolled past cartoonish molelike animals in mining gear, working some whimsical subterranean quarry. The same musical refrain kept playing over and over again, an aural form of the Chinese water torture.

Shortly after disappearing into the crowds of Tivoli Gardens, Gray and Fiona had hopped on the old ride, playing father and daughter. But at the first unsupervised turn, they rolled out of their car and into a service cubby behind a swinging door with an electrical hazard sign on it. Never finishing the ride, Gray could only imagine the end: the molelike creatures merrily ensconced in hospital beds, suffering from black-lung disease.

Or so he hoped.

The jaunty refrain in Dutch continued for the thousandth time. Maybe it wasn't as bad as the It's-a-Small-World ride at Disneyland, but it was a close second.

In the cramped quarters, Gray had the Darwin Bible open in his lap. He had been perusing the pages with a penlight, searching for any clue to its importance, page by page. His head throbbed in tune to the music.

"Do you have a gun?" Fiona asked, crunched in a corner, arms crossed. "If you do, shoot me now."

Gray sighed. "We only have another hour."

"I'll never make it."

The plan was to wait for the park to close. The park only had one official exit, but Gray was sure all exits were under surveillance by now. Their only chance was to try to escape during the park's mass exodus at midnight. He had tried to confirm Monk's arrival at the Copenhagen airport, but the iron and copper in the old building were playing havoc with his cell phone reception. They needed to reach the airport.

"Have you learned anything from the Bible?" she asked.

Gray shook his head. It was fascinating to see the house lineage graphed inside the front cover, the Darwin family's personal evolutionary tree. But otherwise, of the remaining pages he'd perused so far, the brittle and fragile sheets offered no clues. All he discovered were a few scribblings. The same mark over and over, in many different positions and incarnations.

Gray glanced at his notebook. He had jotted down the symbols as they appeared, written in the margins of the Bible—whether by the hand of Charles Darwin or a later owner, he didn't know.

He nudged his notebook toward Fiona.

"Anything look familiar?"

Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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